Sick Days =(

I’m a new T1 D, and lucky me I’m starting to get a cold. Runny, stuffy nose, scratchy throat. No sign of a fever yet but I’m keeping an eye out. It started yesterday and so far my BGs have been in my normal range, nothing that would cause me alarm. I am in close contact with my endo though she’s six hours away on Long Island while I’m up in Plattsburgh (New York) and there’s literally a hospital right down the road from my school, so if worse came to worse, I’d be alright.

Anyway, I guess what I want to ask is: What do you do when you’re diabetic and have a cold? I have a book that has a chapter in it about sick days, but most of it focuses on if you have a stomach virus or a stomach ache (which I don’t). I know you have to be cautious about that because it could lead to DKA, which I know all about since that’s what landed me in the hospital and lead to my Dx in the first place.

But yeah, so when you have a cold, besides keeping in contact with your doctor and monitoring BGs more closely, what else do you do? Any remedies that you use or steps that you take to make the cold go away as quickly as possible? Anything I should look out for that would cause alarm?


I don’t have a lot of advice, because my daughter Samantha was just diagnosed also, but I’ve been reading & researching a lot. One thing to watch out for: sugar content in cold medicines. Check the labels or ask a pharmacist if you have to use one. Also, have you checked out the multi-vitamins for people with diabetes? There is one called Alpha Betic (at CVS) and Multi Betic (at Target). I’m reading that diabetes can be accompanied by vitamin deficiencies, and these are recommended. Samantha has a sore throat right now, so I’m watching out. The thing you don’t want is to feel so yucky that you don’t eat, that’s what can lead to problems.

Drink lots of water, broth, or tea with no caffeine. Easy to get dehydrated with a cold & even slight dehydration sends BG up. Since I’ve been taking Vit D3, I don’t get colds often & if I do they pass quickly. Be cautious with Vit C because it can cause false low readings. Vit C reacts with the chemical on test strips. I don’t take OTC cold remedies because they impact my BG.

Illness, infection, allergies, injury, any trauma to do the body can cause high BG, so correct highs as needed & don’t be surprised if it takes more insulin to get on target. I don’t take large corrections because I’ve found that smaller doses every 1.5-2 hours works better for me. Yep, test a lot. I eat very little when sick because I’m not usually hungry & it’s hard enough to control BG being sick without the addition of carbs to complicate it. Of course, if you have really high BG that won’t budge for hours, call your doc or go to the ER.

Stomach flu is scary… Either you risk lows from insulin with no food being kept down, or high BG from the virus & dehydration from throwing up & diarrhea.

Feel better soon!

I like to drink chicken broth. I find that to be as good as tea and honey in soothing my throat (but with a lot less carbs).

Some colds, my blood sugars stay normal and I don’t need to adjust anything. When I see a rise in blood sugars, I increase my basal by 10-50%. If you start seeing higher numbers that you can’t correct, ask your doctor about increasing your insulin doses until you are better.

I have never had DKA from a cold – if you are checking your blood sugar often, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Closely monitoring your bg is the most important. Everything else is largely what you would do if you were non-D. I use a sinus rinse because I have sinus issues, but I use it aggressively during colds too. Basically it’s a saline squirt bottle for up your nose. It’s called Neilmed though there are generic brands. I use it in the shower. It helps to clear nasal/sinus congestion. That doesn’t make the cold shorter, but the after effects (like sore throat/post nasal drip, cough/chest congestion, and stuffy/dry nose) are usually reduced in severity. You just have to be ok with squirting things up your nose (a lot of stuff, like 0.4 liters a pop).

The cold doesn’t do much with my bgs, other than affecting my eating. It’s the flu you really need to watch out for!